Architecture Service Innovation Trends

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Overview - Innovation Trends: Commercial and Retail Architecture Firms


The latest innovations in architecture have largely focused on eco-friendly and high technology-oriented solutions. The innovations of NBBJ, SGA and Rapt Studio have integrated the architectural designs with high-end technology such as VR, VDC and modern methodologies such as Scrum and Kanban. Perkins+Will has rightly tapped the current trend of eco-friendly designs and has innovated building design to reduce carbon emissions. People’s Architecture Office innovation is unique and has developed a design which caters to the emerging urban- nomad lifestyle.
The future trends likely to impact architecture are 3-D printing for building structures, programmable cement, eco-friendly wood building materials, nature themed designs, contextual integration, and retail metamorphosis. These trends require that the architects, designers, and developers mainly focus on innovative, sustainable, and agile architectural designs.

Below, we have briefly described our findings. We have structured our research into two parts i.e. innovative project designs and ideas and innovative trends for future. The design, ideas, and trends cover (i) the latest tools and processes e.g. use of Scrum and Kanban methodologies by Rapt Studio (ii) & (iii) innovative ways of managing projects and people e.g. use of VR for improving collaboration between designers by NBBJ (iv) innovative trends for future e.g. 3-D printing and programmable cement.

Below is our deep dive on the project.

Innovative Project Designs and Ideas

1. Inclusion of Virtual Reality (VR) into architecture
NBBJ, a Seattle based architecture firm has integrated VR into the designing process through its own venture Visual Vocal. NBBJ hopes to improve the collaboration and communication between designers by improvising rapidly based on client feedback. This firm has been ranked as No.1 in the annual listing of Fast Company “Most Innovative Companies 2018”.

2. Environmentally progressive design
Perkins+Will has been ranked as No.2 in the annual listing of Fast Company “Most Innovative Companies 2018” for its environmentally progressive design tackling the problem of carbon emissions affecting climatic change. This firm mainly focuses on building healthy environment with high performance.

3. Using Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) technology to redevelop buildings
SGA has used Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) technology to redevelop New York buildings into modern offices. Use of VDC technology has helped the company to visualize the building improvements and make design changes in real time.

4. Portable prefabricated home structures
People’s Architecture Office (PAO) specializes in Plugin Homes, which comprise easy-to-assemble structures equipped with modern amenities that can be inserted into the buildings. These prefabricated structures can be built and then moved to other places easily. PAO has applied the urban-nomad ideas to office design.

5. Agile Engineering Design
Rapt Studio combined the Scrum and Kanban methodologies to design their own custom processes where architects, graphic designers, industrial designers, strategists, copywriters and the clients can collectively solve the problems.

Innovative trends for future

6. 3-D printing for building structures
Architecture firms have started to embrace the benefits of 3-D printing and will be using more of this technology to visualize designs. It takes lesser time to create scale models, offers excellent quality and is a more economical alternative.

Scientists at Rice University have discovered the kinetic properties of cement and have developed methods to program microscopic cement particles to build stronger and durable structures with lesser concrete, which also provides environmental benefits.

8. Revival of eco-friendly wood building materials
The coming years will see a rise in the use of technologies such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) and nail-laminated timber (NLT) as they offer an environmentally superior track record w.r.t high rise buildings when compared to concrete buildings. Also, Leno CLT, a tulipwood version of CLT can be manufactured in larger sizes and produces stronger and superior appearance structures.

9. Offices closer to nature
Commercial building structures need to be more eco-friendly and must be having adequate sustainability measures to avoid damage to the environment. The customers expect more responsive interior space designs, which appear closer to nature.

10. Contextual Integration
While constructing buildings, it is necessary that the building is integrated smoothly with its existing surroundings. For example, the new Jebel Ali Park Hotel was designed in a way which ensured harmony with the existing golf course.

11. Retail Metamorphosis
The present consumers are more inclined towards online shopping as it’s easy, convenient and quick. For example, BSBG’s Big Box Retail Mall project for developer Al Futtaim. So in order to engage customers in the retail stores and malls, it is necessary that the developers provide the end users with more involving and authentic shopping experiences which fulfill the expectations of the digital generation.


To summarize, we have identified the latest innovations by architectural firms which are: VR integrated architecture by NBBJ, environmentally progressive design by Perkins+Will, application of VDC technology for redevelopment by SGA, portable prefabricated home structures by People’s Architecture Office and agile engineering design by Rapt Studio. The future trends likely in 2018 are 3-D printing for building structures, programmable cement, eco-friendly wood building materials, nature themed designs, contextual integration, and retail metamorphosis.